Why Some Men Don't Need Deodorant

Are you one of the few, the proud, the genetically odorless?

By Gordon Hurd

Why Some Men Don't Need Deodorant
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04 October 2016

First, thank you all for wearing deodorant.

That said, you may not need to.

Despite our best efforts in our early teen years, most of us have a pretty well ingrained habit of putting on deodorant every day. Thankfully so, as using deodorant is among the most socially tonic of daily habits. Keeping our body odor in check not only preserves our own sense self-confidence and well-being, it also keeps others from recoiling in horror when you pass by them in the gym.

But it turns out that despite all the social pressure, a select few human beings may not need to bother.

In the course of mapping out the human genome and finding out what all the various strands of DNA in our bodies do, scientists have discovered that some guys (some ladies, too) are genetically empowered with the ability to avoid body odor. It’s basically a superpower you may not know you have.

A little background: body odor generally comes from one or more of our glands — sweat, sebaceous or apocrine. The latter's prime locations are in our armpits and pubic areas, and these contribute to most of our B.O. But what comes from our glands doesn't actually reek — it's the combination of gland secretions and bacteria together that produce body odor.

Now, recently, scientists discovered the gene ABCC11 is largely responsible for whether you produce wet or dry types of earwax. While we're not sure what evil plan inspired the original research into that, the more tangible takeaway was that the team also discovered that people with dry earwax also tend to lack the chemicals that bacteria love to feed on — meaning, no B.O.

The population of people with the non B.O. gene appears to be predominantly in east Asia, while an estimated 2% of people from European descent carry a similar gene. Funnily enough, those that carry the gene still tend to wear deodorant anyway.

Couldn’t hurt.

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